Monday, September 1, 2014

Cowboy Church!

A great rollicking good time was had at the Community Care Center (CCC) today!  Particularly by the team… We started with Cowboy Church at 10: Bruce, Patrick and David played guitar/drums for some good old fashioned Gospel singin’. Laura and Renee led the singing.  Elizabeth and Titus dressed up in their western garb and helped sing, Patricia helped sing and serve communion, Patti smiled a lot, the boys and girls sang, and Glenn bounced around making everyone laugh.
And we needed to laugh - the whole thing started out as a comedy of errors.  The resident/pastor who was engaged to preach forgot (even though he showed me his message and I reminded him on Wednesday and Thursday) and went out with his wife.  I found this out at 9:30.  The guys got set up and we found there were no microphones in the gear we borrowed from the church, so Bruce drove back to church to get some.  He returned with ten minutes to set up, but after 20 minutes the PA system still would not work, so we went acoustic. 

But guess what? The Lord was working, and it was perfect. 

Due to the late start, we didn’t have time for a real message anyway, so a communion meditation  sufficed all ‘round.  The service went long – until nearly 10:50, but nobody wanted to leave.
This was the most-attended event this year: 38 residents!  One Jehovah’s Witness, one confirmed anti-church person, three lone rangers (who don't come because they can do religion quite well on their own, thank you very much, and two new residents, among others.  The gospel was presented clearly, and those who were able and willing took Communion. Afterward, David stayed and showed Josef how the box drum worked.

One new lady came and I was surprised to see her. On my way to bring Bob up from downstairs, I had seen her at the outside doorway, screaming obscenities at a nurse.  She appeared in the middle of the first song and sat down as calmly as you please, singing along with great gusto.  She left before communion was served.  I saw her later and asked her name and let her know she was welcome to join us for church any time.  She hung her head.

“The devil was at work in my life this morning,” she said.  “And I was not going to come to church at all. But the Lord wanted me in there and when I heard the music I just came right on in – I couldn’t help myself. I needed to be there – while you were talking I realized I had to go and find that nurse and apologize and make it right. I’m very sorry for the way I behaved. I shamed myself and the Lord and I’m going to do better for Him, after all He’s done for me.”

I heard about Cowboy church all afternoon. Every time I turned around someone was thanking me for the music and the service and for having Communion. One of the men (who sometimes has trouble finding the right words) was having a family visit in the afternoon, and he called me over and said, "I've been telling my daughter all about the wonderful hobo music we had in church today!"
"Hobo music?!?!" I exclaimed, "What do you mean HOBO music?  That was my HUSBAND up there!  I'm going to tell him you said that.  Hobo music indeed...."  And we all laughed about it until our stomachs hurt.

And then I went to visit Kellie.  She was the first person I ever visited.
On that long ago day I walked in to see this stranger, worried about what I was going to say and how I would know whether she was open to talking about spiritual things.   I found her alone in a dark room staring at a blank wall (she’s nearly blind).  She looked up at me and barked, “Is it hot out?”
“Um, no, I said.  It’s October, so it’s rather chilly, actually.”
“Oh,” she said, and then “Well, the rapture's coming.”
She’s a firm believer and enthusiastic second-coming discusser.  But since her last hospitalization in March, she has grown increasingly silent, though she often she calls out “Help me, oh help me!” or “Oh God!”  into the empty air. So often that one of the men in her hallway (who’s a bit confused and doesn’t do names well) once missed her and asked me ‘When is Oh God coming back?”) 

Today I was speaking with another resident in the hall and heard Kellie crying out in her room so I stopped in to see her.  To my surprise, she made some responses to my questions.  Then she started moaning again, “Help me!” “Oh, God!”  “Please help me!”
“What do you need, Kellie?”
“I don’t need anything.”
“You keep saying 'Help me.' What do you need help with?”
These are questions I have asked her before, many times, and which she has never answered.  And she didn’t answer this time.  But as I looked down at her, understanding finally blasted into my brain.
“Wait – you’re not talking to me, are you?”
“It’s a prayer, isn’t it?”
And she said, relived, “Yes, it is.”
“What do you want Him to help you with, Kellie?”
With tears in her eyes, she answered, “I want Him to come for me. I’m ready. Why is He waiting so long?  And I’m scared. Scared witless.”
“Why?  What frightens you?”
“I….I just don’t know. But it’s terrible. Oh, God!  Please help me!”
“I’ll pray that with you right now. Let’s talk to Him together, alright?’
“I started with ‘Oh God, please help Kellie!’ and the Holy Spirit led us in prayer.  A long prayer.  And she participated, which I think was a first.
And that was only one of the ways God was working at The CCC yesterday; it was a truly blessed day!

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